How To Keep Your Head During Exam Term
Mental health is an important issue and one which repeatedly makes the headlines. Regardless of whether it is videos of Prince William and Lady Gaga, or The Tab’s investigation into university suicide, mental health is all around, and that’s for one reason – it affects all of us.
So here are a few tips to handle your mental health this exam term and beyond.
Food glorious food!
Guys, the days of gorging on takeaway pizzas, packets of biscuits and Sainsburys Basic pasta are over. If you want your brain to work for you and you want to keep level headed – giving your body the right fuel is the right way to go.
Making sure you give your body the right fuel, will not only kick those sugar slumps to the kerb, giving your body the right nutrients can actually improve your mental health too.
So step up the protein – grab a salmon fillet, a can of tuna, some chickpeas or one of those cheap steaks from Tescos – and get cooking. Pair this with some salad or vegetables, add in some carbs… and tadahhhh you are almost part of the way there.
Take a break
Seriously, breathe and take some time to chill. You are not going to be any more productive slaving at your desk for hour after hour if nothing is going in.
So first things first, give yourself time for a break. When you make your timetable (top tip!) add in some fun time.
Make sure you making time for physical exercise – whether you are going to go for a walk round the block or head to the gym for an hour in the evening – give yourself a chance to get the blood running and to work off the exam term jitters.
It is not just about exercise though, try to at least give yourself a break over meal times. Whether you are going to cook dinner with friends or catch up on the most recent Pretty Little Liars, it is important that your brain has a chance to breathe between library sessions.
Finally, make sure you are getting some sleep. Your brain is just going to be mush if you think you can survive off caffeine and little sleep, so add in some time for a good night’s sleep EVERY NIGHT. Your revision and mental health will thank you.
Exam term is not the time to become anti-social. You might not be hitting the clubs as regularly as freshers, but you still need time to talk and spend time with your friends. So talk about how stressed you are, or how that boy isn’t replying, maybe even delve deeper and really open up to one of your friends this term. A problem shared is a problem halved after all. So talk about this, that and everything in between – nothing is off limits if it is bothering you!
Now maybe, what is eating you up inside isn’t friend appropriate or you aren’t ready, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it bottled up inside. Lots of unis have a helpline which students can ring confidentially, or you can go to your GP and ask for counselling with a professional. Your personal tutor should be able to put you in touch with a wealth of resources, lots of your course mates are probably already using.
The main thing to remember is that if you are struggling with your mental health, whether linked to exam term or not, you are not alone and it doesn’t make you weak. Not only has Zayn Malik been battling anxiety, but 80% of students suffered from mental health issues in 2015! Yes that is 8 out of every 10 people on that library table with you.
At the end of the day, when it comes to exam term you have to be realistic. Be sensible about the amount of work you can actually achieve in the time you have left. If you have left it to the last minute then don’t make yourself ill cramming it all in. If you have been revising for a long time, make sure you are pacing yourself and not burning out. You are trying to fit a year (or many years work – hey finalists) into a shorter period of time, so be fair on yourself.
While it is great to dream, aspire and work towards the best grade possible, always be proud in knowing that you tried your best.
So good luck in your exams this year and remember to look after your mental health.
At the end of the day, exams aren’t the be all and end all, Richard Branson doesn’t have a degree and look at him now!
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